Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Lateral flow tests

Lateral flow tests need low false positives for antibodies and low false negatives for virus

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 13 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n90
  1. Keith A Moyse, independent scientist
  1. Oxford, UK
  1. cowley2013-bmj{at}

The relative importance of the sensitivity and the specificity of lateral flow devices (LFDs) depends on the intended use.

LFDs that are being piloted for the detection of antigens need to have high sensitivity in order to detect the virus in those who should isolate. A false positive, on the other hand, merely risks someone self-isolating unnecessarily.

The reverse is true …

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